1. Tell us about your background, whether it’s your education journey, your career journey or your aspirations.
When I went to college, I was sure that I wanted to be an attorney but, by senior year at Georgetown, I decided that I wanted to do what I had done as a passion since high school and went to journalism school instead. At the University of Missouri, I was training as a print journalist and began looking for work for a newspaper. Life took a slightly different turn when the first job I got offered was editing a magazine for the public relations department of an iron foundry in Virginia. There, I got a real taste for public relations and decided that I found my professional home – one that I stayed in for 46 years.
2. Of all the directions you could have gone, why are you interested in public relations?
I love the variety of skills needed and the variety of issues and opportunities that we face day to day. I first got interested in journalism as a photographer so I like that I’m able to put my photographic skills to use. What’s more, I love that we constantly get to learn new things and offer solutions in a world where communications have become increasingly important. Where else can I be a reporter one day, a video producer the next, and then a trusted resource and confidant to the CEO.
I found PRSA to be an invaluable resource throughout my career. I was part of the APR class formed in 1986 to generate enough APR members to re-constitute the dormant Central Pennsylvania chapter. Since then, I’ve been part of three chapters and learned a great deal from other members and from national conferences. My connections in PRSA have helped me keep current in the profession and move across several areas of practice including corporate, agency, association, and higher education.
3. Tell us something about yourself or your experiences that’s intriguing. What makes you a unicorn?
I’ll tell you one dark secret that scares clients and employers if you don’t ease them into it. I love crisis communications. That doesn’t mean that I wish ill on my employers, but I do love solving the fast pace and problems that come one after another. And, it’s a real rush to be the source of information for the media while working to keep control of the narrative.
4. What do you want to learn in the next year?
I just retired from my job as public relations director at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, and will shortly be on my way back to Central Pennsylvania. I’m looking forward to pivoting to art photography. I already have a website set up and I’m looking forward to more landscapes and wildlife photography. While some of my PR skills will be useful, this is a different world and I look forward to seeing how it works. I also hope to do a bit of freelance work as a writer and photographer.
5. Where do you see yourself in two years?
I hope to have settled into a steady – if somewhat slower – rhythm that includes more time with my grandchildren and a successful art photography business that keeps me busy and funds some travel to beautiful places. By the way, if anyone is interested, my newly launched website is www.earlyartphotography.com